THE JOE SHUSTER CENTENNIAL: A TRIBUTE TO SUPERMAN’S CO-CREATOR ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS 100TH BIRTHDAY
By Patrick A. Reed
One-hundred years ago this week, a boy was born in Toronto who, despite his humble origins, would help define the nature of American popular entertainment forever.
Joe Shuster’s parents were Jewish immigrants who came over to Canada from Rotterdam and the Ukraine in 1912, and started a family. Times were tough, and the family moved regularly, struggling to make ends meet. Joe was the oldest of three Shuster children, and demonstrated artistic inclinations at an early age, drawing whenever he could find the time (and materials). The Shusters moved to the United States in 1924 and settled on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, where Joe was enrolled in Glenville High School. It was there that he met classmate Jerome Siegel.
Siegel was already an experienced writer, and the boys bonded over mutual passions: movies, comic strips, and science fiction. It was inevitable that they would collaborate, and after a few false starts (including a pulp-style short story that Siegel titled “Reign Of The Superman”), the pair began to develop and shop around a concept for a newspaper strip of their own: a story of a wildly-attired strongman who would do battle with all manner of hoodlums and evil-doers. The idea took a few years to sell, but once their initial run of strips was configured for the then-new “comic book” format and appeared in the 1939 debut issue of Action Comics, their character Superman became an international sensation that endures to this day, 75 years later.
While Shuster’s relationship — and that of his family — to Superman publishers DC Comics was and continues to be far from harmonious, what’s never been in dispute is the master cartoonist’s influence on multiple generations of creative artists. To celebrate the centennial anniversary of Shuster’s birth, some of those men and women have paid homage to and shared their impressions of Shuster’s work, his legacy, and his signature character.
SEE THE TRIBUTES AT COMICS ALLIANCE